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Originally published September 28, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 28, 2007 at 3:01 PM

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Big snow this year? La Niña could bring it

Skiers dreaming of carving fresh tracks will be happy to hear that it may snow more than normal in Western Washington this winter. Forecasters say La Niña...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Skiers dreaming of carving fresh tracks will be happy to hear that it may snow more than normal in Western Washington this winter.

Forecasters say La Niña — the unusual cooling of water in the Pacific Ocean — will cause more rainfall and varying temperatures in the upcoming months. Those conditions generally mean more snow.

"The chances are we're going to have more snow than normal, but there's no guarantee," said Clifford Mass, a professor at the UW's Department of Atmospheric Sciences. "We do get significantly more snow in La Niña years."

Major snowfall hit Western Washington during the 1998-99 season — also a La Niña year, said Mass.

During that season, Mount Baker recorded about 95 feet — the most snowfall ever measured in the United States in a single season, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

That winter isn't a typical indication of the upcoming season, but Mass said that the forecast is "good news for skiers."

Dustin Guy, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Seattle, cautioned that it's probably too early to tell how much more snow the region will get this winter.

Most area ski resorts see between 350 to 450 inches of snowfall a year in an average year, he said. Stevens Pass receives about 450 inches a year, while Crystal Mountain gets about 380 inches on average, he said.

Christina Siderius: csiderius@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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